After struggling to retain its top four status during recent years, Berlin International Film Festival went some way to re-establishing itself during 2011. Amongst the critically acclaimed films on view was the World premiere of the latest documentary from German auteur, Wim Wenders, screened out of competition. But this is Wenders with a new toy, not quite as we have seen him before, using 3D to explore the innovative dance choreography of Pina Bausch.
We see women stoop and twist, contorting and arching their bodies, wearing thin almost transparent dresses that they inelegantly raise periodically in an abrupt desexualised gesture. Exhilarated one moment, frantic the next, they anxiously hand around a red dress in a Russian roulette version of pass the parcel, all under the watchful eye of their leader, a misogynistic alpha male choosing his sacrifice. This is Bausch’s take on the dance of death from Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring, full of primary instincts and raw emotion.
The film crew’s equipment gets close, we hear the dancers catching their breath, we see the absolute terror in the women’s eyes. Distorted faces, dramatic gestures, this is a throw back to the late silent era of F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang and other German Expressionists but the technology is state of the art, the contrast is astounding.
We switch to Bausch’s Cafe Muller, first performed over 30 years ago. The red hot agitation of the sacrifice gives way to a pale and stark room where all is ambiguous and bleak. The sense of ritual remains but now it is the redundant rituals of life, sometimes obsessive, sometimes impulsive. Probably inspired by Bausch’s observations of customers in her own parents’ cafe, we sense that the characters here have lost their purpose and, in truth, lost hope. A man repeatedly drops his lover, another frantically shoves tables and chairs aside apparently to clear a path for a drowsy, possibly somnolent, woman wandering around aimlessly. All is unsettling, slightly beyond our grasp but strangely familiar.
The stage remains bare for Kontakthof, the setting for an old style village dance. We return to facial gestures but of a very different kind from those seen in the Rites of Spring. The characters move towards the camera, a substitute for the audience, and expose their teeth. All seems very satirical at first but things change as their behaviour becomes increasingly phobic; these are actions that reveal inner quirks and fears usually concealed by social decorum but exposed here on a collective scale that is superficially surreal but actually horribly real.
And there is Vollmond (Full Moon) the most abstract of the four featured pieces. Talking heads of a kind appear from time to time throughout the film where voice overs from Bausch’s dancers play across their silent seated images. They struggle to find the words to describe her working methods; Bausch herself would do no more than throw in the odd hint here and there for an instruction. A picture emerges of Bausch as a true Modernist where dance, like abstract art, free form poetry, finds its own language, an independent language that becomes a means to an end in itself, a means that can discover a true expression of the internal, the soul. In Bausch’s hands, the images of the moon, changing tides and nature completing its cycles within the hypnotic Vollmond are a launching pad for the dancers and the audiences alike to embark upon their own self discovery within the means that the language of dance provides.
Along the way, Wenders removes his camera from the interior sets that the company used for these pieces. Instead, we see the dancers performing the routines in outside locations scattered around Tanztheater Wuppertal, which houses the company. The dances now have a new context but, intriguingly, the very ones that partly inspired their existence in the first place. Watch out for a wonderful scene where Wenders emulates an overhead train by the movement of his camera only and then switches to an interior shot of a carriage where a passenger breaks into a fabulous routine.
Wenders has always had an eye for the crucial in the apparently mundane whether in brilliant asides during his masterpieces of 1970’s German New Wave (Alice in the Cities, Kings of the Road) or stunning observations from a wider cultural perspective in his subsequent work (Paris Texas, Wings of Desire). Either way, Wenders deals with the true essence of things achieved through a ruthless honestly that made a collaboration with Bausch a perfect match. Unfortunately, Bausch died at the start of filming but Wenders continued with the project making it a tribute to her work instead. But this is no ordinary tribute, as Wenders turns his innovative eye to cinema’s latest invention, 3D for a wide audience. Not only do we sense the physical presence of the dancers in ways that we should normally associate with a live performance, which would be a reasonable expectation in any event, Wenders maximises the 3D possibilities alongside the other considerable stylistic resources at his disposal to combine that physical presence with the manipulation of cinematic space in the creation of a new experience that in turn produces new responses. Whether we are responding to new meanings or to something that more fully articulates those that Bausch intended is not particularly relevant and nor shall we ever know, but that is not the point. The point here is that Wenders has created something new and vital rather than simply copying a work from a different medium with the unavoidable dilution. It is interesting, and possibly revealing, that the other filmmaker to have explored 3D beyond its technologies is the other leading light of the German New Wave, Werner Hertzog, whose Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the closest most of us will come to experiencing Chauvet’s magnificent cave art in ways that transcend mere reproduction.
There has been a ‘pack of dogs’ mentality during recent times with the critical assessment of Wenders’ late work. Conventional wisdom had it that Wenders has markedly fallen away since Buena Vista Social Club over ten years ago, the impact of which lead to his Land of Plenty been barely seen in the UK beyond its belated premiere at the Chichester Film Festival. Let us be absolutely clear about this united attack; Wenders has continued to work in innovative and relevant ways and he is simply a victim of that strange and annoying trend of filmmakers falling out of fashion for no apparent reason. It is to be hoped that Pina’s success will lead to a re-appraisal of Wenders’ overlooked work from the last decade.dapoxetine price in pakistancheap dapoxetine onlinegeneric dapoxetineenduro dirt bikes for salebuy half inderal la 80mgbuy inderal onlineinderal orderinderal generic namecheap propranolol onlinegeneric for inderal